Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Royal Exhibition Building Annex, Melbourne, Victoria
Date Started: November 22, 1956
Date Finished: December 1, 1956
Format: Series of round-robin pools advance to classification tournaments.
The Soviet Union had been European Champions in 1951 and 1953, but had lost in 1955 to Hungary. They did not compete in the 1954 World Championship, won by the United States. With the level of basketball improving around the world, it was thought that the US might be vulnerable in Melbourne. But that theory omitted one variable – the United States center was a gentleman named Bill Russell.
Russell played at the [University of San Francisco], where he led his team to the NCAA title in 1955 and 1956. A 6-9 center (206 cm.) with very long arms, he emphasized defense and team play and would eventually be considered the greatest champion in the history of American basketball, leading his NBA team, the [Boston Celtics], to 10 NBA Championships, eight of them consecutively. He was assisted by the guard, K. C. Jones, who played throughout his career with Russell, at San Francisco, on the Olympic team, and later with the Boston Celtics.
During the Olympics, the United States' team was dominant. They won every game by over 30 points, including the final against the Soviet Union by 89-55.